Russian delegation ‘sought to stop Israeli strikes in Syria, Lebanon’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Russian delegation ‘sought to stop Israeli strikes in Syria, Lebanon’

Arabic daily says high-level team visiting from Moscow came to Jerusalem to discourage action against Iran and Hezbollah

Russian Federation Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, left, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, February 1, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Russian Federation Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, left, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, February 1, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

A delegation of senior Russian security officials visiting Israel this weekreportedly sought to dissuade Jerusalem from striking Iranian and Hezbollah weapons facilities in Syria and Lebanon.

According to the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat, quoted by Israel’s Channel 10 news, the purpose of Wednesday’s visit, headed by Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, was Moscow’s desire to discourage Israeli intervention across the border, Channel 10 news reported.

The Russian delegation, which also included deputy ministers, army generals and intelligence officers, held talks with Israel’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat as well as heads of Israel’s National Security Council and top military, defense and intelligence officials.

Patrushev himself met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel has been negotiating with the United States and Russia, the main brokers in Syria, to keep Iran-backed Shiite militias and the Hezbollah terrorist group away from the border.

Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and others have all said that Israel’s policy is to target shipments of advanced weaponry, including accurate long-range missiles, that are heading to or in the possession of Hezbollah. Foreign media reports have attributed dozens of airstrikes on Iranian-linked targets in Syria to Israel.

Last week’s visit by the Russian officials came on the heels of Netanyahu’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss Iranian military entrenchment in the region.

A satellite image showing the results of an alleged Israeli airstrike on a reported Iranian base being set up outside Damascus, from December 4, 2017. (ImageSat International ISI)

Netanyahu said his meeting with Putin focused on Iran, with the prime minister saying if Tehran continues to try and deepen its influence in Syria, Israel would work to “stop it.”

“The question is: Does Iran entrench itself in Syria, or will this process be stopped. If it doesn’t stop by itself, we will stop it,” Netanyahu told Israeli reporters during a telephone briefing.

“We also spoke about Lebanon, which is becoming a factory for precision-guided missiles that threaten Israel. These missiles pose a grave threat to Israel, and we will not accept this threat,” he added.

Netanyahu said that the weapons factories are currently “in the process of being built” by Iran. Israel is determined to do whatever is necessary to prevent those two developments, Netanyahu said.

Last month, Israel’s envoy to the United Nations said there are 3,000 soldiers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps currently fighting in Syria, and accused Tehran of seeking to turn the country “into the largest military base in the world.”

Danny Danon told the Security Council that Iran controls 82,000 fighters in Syria, including 9,000 members of Hezbollah, 10,000 Shiite militiamen from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and another 60,000 Syrians.

Danon urged member states not to “allow Iran to continue funding worldwide terror, pursue its dangerous internal arms buildup, and grow its military presence abroad.”

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Welcome to Lawless Latvia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘LAWLESS LATVIA’ WEBSITE)

 

Welcome to Lawless Latvia

Lawless Latvia provides information about Latvian crimes that are ignored by the corrupt media and authorities. Latvia is the offshore banking center for the former Soviet Union, to the detriment of everyone in the world including Latvians and excluding only a few Oligarchs. The EBRD, EU, IMF, and World Bank are making the problem worse by funding the Oligarchs, fraudulently in the case of the EBRD. Please like or friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Learn more about this site »

EBRD openly criminal

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is funded by 65 countries with a mission of fostering transparency and democracy in 30 countries.  From 2009 to 2014, the EBRD was caught running a scam with the Latvian government to temporarily cover-up the disappearance of the assets of Parex Bank.  The government claims that Parex collapsed because of the United States and Sweden, however the real recipients of the disappeared assets were likely Russian oligarchs and Latvian politicians.

From 2009 to 2013, the EBRD insisted that it really bought Parex shares and denied rumors that the privatization was planned to be reversed by a secret guarantee (‘put option’) in 2014.  When the Latvian government did reverse the privatization in 2014, proving that the EBRD was lying and the privatization was a fraud, then the EBRD became silent.

However now something amazing has happened.  The EBRD had admitted on its own website that it is offering a fraud service!  This webpage states that the EBRD will buy shares in a company if the seller guarantees to reverse the investment later!  There is only one reason why a seller (for example a national government) would effectively pay the EBRD to temporarily claim to be owner of shares.  This reason is fraud!  Such transactions are completely illegal since they mislead creditors about the true value of the shares, which for a corrupt and looted government company is usually zero.

We wonder how many of the EBRD’s 30 countries currently have false financial statements because of this racket.

EBRD webpage:

http://www.ebrd.com/work-with-us/project-finance/equity/direct-equity.html%20

pdf in case the EBRD takes down the webpage:

ebrd put option

‘Putin List’: Putin’s Mafia Who Are Financially Raping The Russian People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

It’s been dubbed the “Putin list” — the names of 210 prominent Russians, many with close ties to the Kremlin, released by the US Treasury Department.

The list, which the US administration had been required by law to release, includes 114 senior political figures and 96 oligarchs, all of whom rose to prominence under Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The administration was required to name the companies and individuals and consider whether to sanction them under legislation meant to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 US election, as well as its human rights violations, annexation of Crimea and ongoing military operations in eastern Ukraine.
The list, which includes senior members of Putin’s Cabinet and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, reads like the US has “simply rewritten Kremlin’s phone book,” said Russian senator Konstantin Kosachev in a Facebook Post.
Here it is in full. (Note: Names, spellings and titles are those provided by the US Treasury Department.)

Senior Political Figures

Presidential Administration
1. Anton Vayno: Head, Presidential Administration
2. Aleksey Gromov: First Deputy Head, Presidential Administration
3. Sergey Kiriyenko: First Deputy Head, Presidential Administration
4. Magomedsalam Magomedov: Deputy Head, Presidential Administration
5. Vladimir Ostrovenko: Deputy Head, Presidential Administration
6. Dmitriy Peskov: Deputy lead, Presidential Administration; Presidential Press Secretary
7. Vladislav Kitayev: Chief of Presidential Protocol
8. Andrey Belousov: Aide to the President
9. Larisa Brycheva: Aide to the President
10. Vladislav Surkov: Aide to the President
11. Igor Levitin: Aide to the President
12. Vladimir Kozhin: Aide to the President
13. Yuriy Ushakov: Aide to the President
14. Andrey Fursenko: Aide to the President
15. N ikolay Tsukanov: Aide to the President
16. Konstantin Chuychenko: Aide to the President
17. Yevgeniy Shkolov: Aide to the President
18. Igor Shchegolev: Aide to the President
19. Aleksandr Bedritskiy: Adviser to the President, Special Presidential Representative on Climate Issues
20. Sergey Glazyev: Adviser to the President
21. Sergey Grigorov: Adviser to the President
22. German Klimenko: Adviser to the President
23. Anton Kobyakov: Adviser to the President
24. Aleksandra Levitskaya: Adviser to the President
25. Vladimir Tolstoy: Adviser to the President
26. Mikhail Fedotov: Adviser to the President, Chairman of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights
27. Venyamin Yakovlev: Adviser to the President
28. Artur Muravyev: Presidential Envoy to the Federation Council
29. Garry Minkh: Presidential Envoy to the State Duma
30. Mikhail Krotov: Presidential Envoy to the Constitutional Court
31. Anna Kuznetsova: Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights
32. Boris Titov: Presidential Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights
33. Mikhail Babich: Plenipotentiary Representative to the Volga Federal District
34. Aleksandr Beglov: Plenipotentiary Representative to the Northwestern Federal District
35. Oleg Belaventsev: Plenipotentiary Representative to the North Caucasus Federal District
36. Aleksey Gordeyev: Plenipotentiary Representative to the Central Federal District
37. Sergey Menyaylo: Plenipotentiary Representative to the Siberian Federal District
38. Yuriy Trutnev: Deputy Prime Minister, Plenipotentiary Representative to the Far Eastern Federal District
39. Vladimir Ustinov: Plenipotentiary Representative to the Southern Federal District
40. Igor Kholrnanskikh: Plenipotentiary Representative to the Urals Federal District
41. Aleksandr Manzhosin: Head, Foreign Policy Directorate
42. Vladimir Chemov: Head, Directorate for Interregional and Cultural Ties to Foreign Countries
43. Oleg Govorun: Head, Directorate for Social and Economic Relations with the Commonwealth of Independent States, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia
Cabinet Ministers
44. Drnitriy Medvedev: Prime Minister
45. Igor Shuvalov: First Deputy Prime Minister
46. Sergey Prikhodko: Deputy Prime Minister and Head of the Government Apparatus
47. Aleksandr Khloponin: Deputy Prime Minister
48. Vitaliy Mutko: Deputy Prime Minister
49. Arkadiy Dvorkovich: Deputy Prime Minister
50. Olga Golodets: Deputy Prime Minister
51. Dmitriy Kozak: Deputy Prime Minister
52. Drnitriy Rogozin: Deputy Prime Minister
53. Mikhail Abyzov: Minister for Liaison with Open Government
54. Aleksandr Tkachev: Minister of Agriculture
55. Vladimir Puchkov: Minister of Civil Defense, Emergencies, and Natural Disasters
56. Nikolay Nikiforov: Minister of Communications and Mass Media
57. Mikhail Men: Minister of Construction, Housing, and Public Utilities
58. Vladimir Medinskiy: Minister of Culture
59. Sergey Shoygu: Minister of Defense
60. Maksim Oreshkin: Minister of Economic Development
61. Olga Vasilyeva: Minister of Education and Science
62. Aleksandr Novak: Minister of Energy
63. Aleksandr Galushka: Minister of Far East Development
64. Anton Siluanov: Minister of Finance
65. Sergey Lavrov: Minister of Foreign Affairs
66. Veronika Skvortsova: Minister of Health
67. Denis Manturov: Minister of Industry and Trade
68. Vladimir Kolokoltsev: Minister of Internal Affairs
69. Aleksandr Konovalov: Minister of Justice
70. Maksim Topilin: Minister of Labor and Social Protection
71. Sergey Donskoy: Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology
72. Lev Kuznetsov: Minister of North Caucasus Affairs
73. Pavel Kolobkov: Minister of Sports
74. Maksim Sokolov: Minister of Transportation
Other senior political leaders
75. Valentina Matviyenko: Chairwoman, Federation Council
76. Sergey Naryshkin: Director, Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR)
77. Vyacheslav Volodin: Chairman, State Duma
78. Sergey Ivanov: Presidential Special Representative for the Environment, Ecology, and Transport
79. Nikolay Patrushev: Secretary, Security Council
80. Vladimir Bulavin: Head, Federal Customs Service
81. Valery Gerasimov: First Deputy Minister of Defense and Chief of the General Staff
82. Igor Korobov: Chief, Main Intelligence Directorate General Staff (GRU), Ministry of Defense
83. Rashid Nurgaliyev: Deputy Secretary, Security Council
84. Georgiy Poltavchenko: Governor of Saint Petersburg
85. Sergey Sobyanin: Mayor of Moscow
86. Yuriy Cbayka: Prosecutor General
87. Aleksandr Bastrykin: Head, Investigative Committee
88. Viktor Zolotov: Director, Federal National Guard Service
89. Dmitriy Kochnev: Director, Federal Protection Service
90. Aleksandr Bortnikov: Director, Federal Security Service (FSB)
91. Audrey Artizov: Head, Federal Archive Agency
92. Yuriy Chikhanchin: Head, Financial Monitoring Federal Service
93. Aleksandr Linets: Head, Presidential Main Directorate for Special Programs
94. Aleksandr Kolpakov: Head, Presidential Property Management Directorate
95. Valeriy Tikhonov: Head, State Courier Service
96. Aleksey Miller: Chief Executive Officer, Gazprom
97. Igor Sechin: Chief Executive Officer, Rosneft
98. German Gref: Chief Executive Officer, Sberbank
99. Oleg Belozerov: General Director, Russian Railways
100. Andrey Kostin: Chainnan Management Board, VTB
101. Sergey Chemezov: Chief Executive Officer, Rostec
102. Oleg Budargin: Chief Executive Officer, Rosseti
103. Boris Kovalchuk: Chief Executive Officer, Inter RAO
104. Aleksey Likhachcv: General Director, Rosatom
105. Nikolay Tokarev: Chief Executive Officer, Transneft
106. Andrey Akimov: Chief Executive Officer, Gazprombank
107. Nail Maganov: General Director, Tatneft
108. Vitaliy Savelyev: Chief Executive Officer, Aeroflot
109. Andrey Shishkin: Chief Executive Officer, ANK Bashneft
110. Ymiy Slyusar: Chief Executive Officer, United Aircraft Corporation
111. Nikolay Shulginov: Chief Executive Officer, RusHydro
112. Sergey Gorkov: Chief Executive Officer, Vneshekonombank
113. Sergey Ivanov (Jr): Chief Executive Officer, ALROSA
114. Roman Dashkov: Chief Executive Officer, Sakhalin Energy

Oligarchs

The US State Department defined oligarchs as individuals with an estimated net worth of $1 billion or more.
1. Aleksandr Abramov
2. Roman Abramovich
3. Aras Agalarov
4. Farkhad Akhmedov
5. Vagit Alekperov
6. Igor Altushkin
7. Aleksey Ananyev
8. Dmitry Ananyev
9. Vasiliy Anisimov
10. Roman Avdeyev
11. Petr Aven
12. Yelena Baturina
13. Aleksey Bogachev
14. Vladimir Bogdanov
15. Leonid Boguslavskiy
16. Audrey Bokarev
17. Oleg Boyko
18. Nikolay Buynov
19. Oleg Deripaska
20. Aleksandr Dzhaparidze
21. Leonid Fedun
22. Gleb Fetisov
23. Mikhail Fridman
24. Aleksandr Frolov
25. Filaret Galchev
26. Sergey Galitskiy
27. Valentin Gapontsev
28. Sergey Gordeyev
29. Andrey Guryev
30. Yuriy Gushchin
31. Mikhail Gutseriyev
32. Sait-Salam Gutseriyev
33. Zarakb Iliyev
34. Dmitriy Kamenshchik
35. Vyacheslav Kantor
36. Sanwel Karapetyan
37. Yevgeniy Kasperskiy
38. Sergey Katsiyev
39. Suleyman Kerimov
40. Igor Kesayev
41. Danil Khachatmov
42. German Khan
43. Viktor Kharitonin
44. Aleksandr Klyachin
45. Petr Kondrashev
46. Andrey Kosogov
47. Yuriy Kovalchuk
48. Andrey Kozitsyn
49. Aleksey Kuzmichev
50. Lev Kvetnoy
51. Vladimir Lisin
52. Anatoliy Lomakin
53. Ziyavudin Magornedov
54. Igor Makarov
55. Iskander Makhmudov
56. Aleksandr Mamut
57. Andrey Melnichenko
58. Leonid Mikhelson
59. Yuriy Milner
60. Boris Mints
61. Andrey Molchanov
62. Aleksey Mordashov
63. Vadim Moshkovich
64. Aleksandr Nesis
65. God Nisanov
66. Aleksandr Ponomarenko
67. Sergcy Popov
68. Vladimir Potanin
69. Mikhail Prokhorov
70. Dmitriy Pumpyanskiy
71. Megdet Rakhimkulov
72. Andrey Rappoport
73. Viktor Rashnikov
74. Arkadiy Rotenberg
75. Boris Rotenberg
76. Dmitriy Rybolovlev
77. Ayrat Shaymiyev
78. Radik Shaymiyev
79. Kirill Shamalov
80. Yuriy Sheller
81. Albert Shigabutdinov
82. Mikhail Shishkhanov
83. Leonid Simanovskiy
84. Audrey Skoch
85. Aleksandr Skorobogatko
86. Rustem Sulteyev
87. Aleksandr Svetakov
88. Gennadiy Timchenko
89. Oleg Tinkov
90. Roman Trotsenko
91. Alisher Usmanov
92. Viktor Vekselberg
93. Arkadiy Volozh
94. Vadim Yakunin
95. Vladimir Yevtushenkov
96. Gavril Yushvayev

Russia And Putin’s Fixed Elections

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Photo

Protesters on Sunday in Moscow, where rallies called by the opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny were banned. “You have your own life at stake,” Mr. Navalny said in a pre-recorded message.CreditPavel Golovkin/Associated Press

MOSCOW — Protesters across Russia braved icy temperatures on Sunday to demonstrate against the lack of choice in the March election that is virtually certain to see President Vladimir V. Putin chosen for a fourth term.

“What we are being offered right now are not elections, and we must not participate in them,” Yevgeny Roizman, the mayor of the central Russian city of Yekaterinburg and a rare elected official from an opposition party, told a crowd of hundreds that had gathered in protest.

The protests in scores of cities — from Vladivostok in the east to Kaliningrad in the west — were called by Aleksei A. Navalny, the charismatic, anticorruption opposition leader, after he was barred from running for the presidency because of legal problems that he said had been manufactured to prevent his candidacy.

“You have your own life at stake,” Mr. Navalny said in a recorded messageurging protesters in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where the rallies were banned, to turn out. “Every additional year of Putin staying in power is one more year of decay.”

Attacking the government as thieves, he said: “How many more years will you keep getting a lower salary than you are due? For how many more years will your business receive less revenue than it is due?”

Continue reading the main story

Mr. Navalny was detained before he reached the several thousand demonstrators gathered in Pushkin Square in central Moscow and other main avenues closer to the Kremlin. Video footage showed police officers, who over all were far more restrained than during previous demonstrations, tackling him and dragging him onto a bus.

Задержание Навального! (Тверская) Video by Команда Навального

A police statement, which put attendance at 1,000 people, said he would be charged with organizing an illegal gathering.

In June, Mr. Navalny was arrested as he emerged from his apartment to attend an unauthorized anticorruption protest, and he served 25 days in jail. This time, he first stayed in an undisclosed location, taunting the authorities by saying he would announce his whereabouts, and then giving the address where Mr. Putin is registered to vote.

Photo

Mr. Navalny was detained by police officers in Moscow on Sunday. CreditEvgeny Feldman/Associated Press

After he was detained on Sunday, Mr. Navalny posted a message on Twitterurging protesters to carry on without him.

The boisterous crowd in Pushkin Square chanted slogans including, “These are not elections!” and “Down with the czar!” At one point, the protesters urged more people to join them, chanting, “There is still time to come; the weather is not bad.”

Mr. Navalny organized anticorruption protests across Russia in March and June, mobilizing middle-class youths in particular, and his campaign has vowed to organize repeated protests before the March 18 election to underscore that the vote is a fraud, with the Kremlin manipulating the entire process.

The numbers on Sunday were smaller than previous protests, not least because an election boycott is a less-galvanizing issue than corruption.

“People did not come out for an unsanctioned event,” Marat Guelman, a leading cultural figure, wrote on Facebook. “It’s a defeat. Moscow does not want tensions.”

The crowd again skewed young, however, and even those who despaired of change thought showing up mattered.

“The boycott won’t likely change anything, but there are two different factors that work against Putin,” said Sergei Zhilkin, 32, a mathematician and IT engineer. “First, he gets older and is increasingly detached from what modern life is like; second, the new generation becomes more and more active in the society.”

Mr. Putin, 65, has refused to even say Mr. Navalny’s name, warning that protest movements would only bring chaos to Russia.

Photo

Demonstrators also gathered in St. Petersburg on Sunday. Mr. Navalny urged protesters there and in Moscow to turn out, as rallies in those cities were banned. CreditAnton Vaganov/Reuters

The demonstrations were generally peaceful, with some 240 protesters detained nationwide, according to OVD-Info, an independent organization that tracks arrests. In the far eastern part of the country and in Siberia, crowds gathered despite frigid temperatures, with Yakutsk approaching minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 45 degrees Celsius).

Numerous provincial cities granted permits, although the protests were often shunted to remote locations.

Kazan was typical. The city offered organizers the parking lot of a garbage processing plant in an industrial district 30 miles north of the city, then erected a 10-foot wall of snow with bulldozers so that no passing cars could see the protesters.

Not to be deterred, a number of the roughly 600 demonstrators clambered atop the barricade to wave their protest signs despite the biting wind.

“I’m 23, and Putin’s been in power 18 years, practically my whole life,” said Grigory, an IT specialist who did not want to give his surname out of concern about repercussions. He was not there so much to support Navalny, he said, but for freedom of choice.

“I pay taxes, and my money goes toward corruption — not toward new roads or my relatives’ welfare, but for expensive cars for officials,” he added.

Another man, who identified himself only as Khaliulla, 79, said he had spent his whole life sacrificing in order to build socialism and now he could barely survive on his pension, forced to chose between rent and medication. “I thought my retirement would be decent,” he said.

He also objected to the forced location of the gathering at a garbage plant. “What are we: trash or something?” he said.

Photo

Security forces gathered in Moscow on Sunday ahead of a demonstration there.CreditAlexander Nemenov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia’s two largest cities, law enforcement officials had warned that they would crack down on illegal gatherings. About 2,000 people demonstrated in St. Petersburg, according to the local news website Fontanka.ru.

State television broadcasts largely ignored the protests. Pictures posted on Mr. Navalny’s website showed the police taking a saw to the door of his headquarters in order to interrupt a live webcast describing events around the country. The police said that they were responding to reports of a bomb in the headquarters, Mr. Navalny said. But the webcasts continued all day anyway from an undisclosed location.

Mr. Navalny’s call for a boycott puts him on one side of a dispute among the opposition about whether exercising the right to vote, however futile, might be preferable.

“Russia has matured to the stage for elections to take place not as a production with Putin seeking pseudo-opponents and everyone goes out and performs,” Vladimir Milov, an opposition figure supporting the boycott, said during a debate on the Echo of Moscow radio station.

Maksim Kats, another opposition politician from one of Moscow’s district councils, countered that voting was crucial, even if the outcome was precooked.

“I think that the most appropriate means is to vote for the candidate that suits you,” he said. “But even if not, then at least spoil the ballot. And vote against Putin.”

Even among the protesters, there was some support for this position, with one man yelling, “Don’t support the boycott! You will be helping Putin if you do!”

Some political analysts also suggested that the boycott was a poor tactic. The absence of Mr. Navalny’s supporters at the polls would most likely not be enough to make a significant difference in the turnout, which is already expected to be lower than usual. The lack of intrigue in the race is expected to hobble the effort to muster a record turnout for Mr. Putin.

He has ruled Russia since 2000, governing as president for all but a four-year stretch, when term limits forced him to serve one term as prime minister. A fourth presidential term — lasting for six years until 2024 — would make him the longest-serving leader since Stalin.

Yes The Russian Threat To Your Freedom Is Real—And It Matters

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

(CNN)The Russians are coming! Except they aren’t. Though they already have a bit. And they might well be coming a bit more soon.

This is how very bad things happen.
The threat posed by Russia to Western interests is unlike anything seen since the 1990s. It has forces or proxies deployed in Syria, Ukraine and, don’t forget, parts of what’s still called Georgia. There is smoke, but there is also fire and daily there is a lot of fuel being added.
Dutch state media revealed this week that Dutch cyber spies — the Joint Sigint Cyber Unit (JSCU) — were able to hack into the closed-circuit television of the building where a Russian hacking organization known as Cozy Bear worked, and observe them coming and going from offices where they hacked the Democratic National Committee in the US. The Dutch told the Americans, touching off the US investigations. According to the Dutch, the Americans then helpfully told the media they were tipped off by a Western intelligence agency, prompting the Russians to turn off the Cozy Bear CCTV hack.

A Ukrainian serviceman shoots with a grenade launcher during fighting with pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, Ukraine.

There was also a shrill warning from new UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson, who, amid a budget row and internal leadership posturing, chose Friday to unleash a barrage of concerns about “thousands and thousands and thousands” — yes, that many — deaths that Russia could cause in Britain, if it successfully hacked the electricity grid.
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Williamson told the Daily Telegraph: “Why would they [the Russians] keep photographing and looking at power stations, why are they looking at the interconnectors that bring so much electricity and so much energy into our country? They are looking at these things because they are saying, ‘These are the ways we can hurt Britain.'” His officials have also alleged Russia may target the transatlantic cables that ferry the internet to the UK.
These new claims were met with the now-predictable Russian derision. Russian defense spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Williamson had “lost understanding of what is reasonable in his fierce fight for the banknotes in the military budget,” and that his “phobia” belonged in “children’s comic books” or an episode of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov dubbed the Dutch report “anti-Russian hysteria,” saying “if the Dutch newspapers want to supply the coal to the furnace of anti-Russian hysteria which is currently takes place in America, well… let’s say it’s not the most noble thing to do.”

‘All decorum has been cast aside’

Russophobia is a familiar and disturbing theme. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently called it “unprecedented.”
“We never saw this during the Cold War. Back then, there were some rules, some decorum… Now, all decorum has been cast aside,” Lavrov told Russian daily Kommersant in an interview published on January 21.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gives his annual press conference in Moscow on January 15, 2018.

Some Russian state rhetoric is designed to paint a picture of an outside world that hysterically harnesses fear of a resurgent Russia, when really the country means no harm. It is designed to try and distance Russians from an outside world they can increasingly see, even if only through the slanted prism of Russian state media.
The xenophobia, homophobia and sometimes outright racism that has grown in Russian society also stem from the idea of a people — a narod — under threat. Russophobia, that argument goes, happens because “they want us gone, but also because they fear us, as we refuse to lie down.” I saw it in the eyes and anger of many ethnic Russians embattled in eastern Ukraine. They felt abandoned, scorned, left outside the rest of Ukraine, and had to turn to Russia to protect their Russianness.
Some of Russia’s urban elite has seen too much of the outside world to buy this reductive message. But its nationalists and beholden state employees embrace it, and much of rural Russia hasn’t seen the glittering globe beyond. Life remains tough there, with even state figures accepting that just under 14% of Russians live below “the minimum cost of living,” according to Tass.
Into this narrative of “them and us” come these increasingly vociferous Western claims of the Russian threat. In the partisan fury of US or UK politics, it is hard to know at times whether Russia did ingeniously undermine the entire US electoral process and infiltrate Team Trump, or just ended up having clumsy hackers steal some emails, and allow some of its sympathizers to get too close to some of Trump’s less savvy or wholesome staff.
It is hard to know, with Russian-backed tanks still in Donetsk and jets in Syria, whether we are seeing an expansionist Moscow intent on soon probing the Baltic states or switching off the lights in London, or a nervous Russia that is just checking threats it sees in its near abroad.

Red Square in Moscow. Russians see the West through the prism of state-run media.

The most troubling point is that the distinction doesn’t really matter. This perception of Russophobia (or a real Russian threat) is either what the Kremlin wants, to justify its more aggressive schemes, or it is what the Kremlin feels it has to respond to, as to not appear weak.
Vladimir Putin has long surrounded himself not with tech-age visionaries, but with men who stem from the same age as him, a period he called the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century” — the fall of the Soviet empire. He still feels it personally, wishes to see the shift in power partially redressed and must surely be bemused at how the US public has elected a president so capable of diminishing US influence the world over.
The Kremlin takes things personally. It may seem disproportionate to the slight, but not when compared with the extraordinary suffering of the Soviet era and the brutal collapse of the 1990s. But by recognizing Russia as the threat it increasingly shows itself to be, Western figures are also ensuring Moscow has little choice but to fulfill the prophecy.

The U.S. Military Being In Syria Is An Illegal Act Of War

 

This commentary today is simply my belief’s on the issue of the U.S. still having troops, combat or otherwise within the borders of the sovereign State of Syria. When our mission there was to destroy the illegal Caliphate of ISIS we had a defined reason and mission for being inside the borders of Syria. Since ISIS is now just another run of the mill terror group without a ‘State’ foothold our ‘mission’ there is done. The reason I say that we have no right to be there is because the legitimate government of Syria under its President Mr. Assad has said several times that we are not welcome there and that he wants us out of their country, now.

 

Just because we don’t like the Leader of a country this is not a legal reason for our government leaders to conduct military operations in that country. The last I heard the U.S. is conducting military operations in about 30 countries, why isn’t this enough for the military hawks in our government? As long as the government of these 30 or so countries have asked us in, asked us for help against honest to goodness terrorists, then we have a right to be there, if we so choose to help them. But, in a case like Syria where the government does not want us there and has said that they will attack any of our troops that are on their soil, we have no legal right to be there!

 

What could possibly be the reasoning behind our government keeping troops in Syria? Is our military and our government trying to start a direct war with Syria? Yet a bigger question would be, is our government trying to start not just a direct war with Syria but a proxy war with Iran and with Russia? If this is the case folks there is no doubt that we will end up being in a direct shooting war with Syria, Iran and Russia, is this really what we the people of the U.S.want? I really don’t think so. About the only member of President Trumps Cabinet that I have been backing so far is our Secretary of State Rex Tillerson but about two days ago he made the statement that we (the U.S.) need to be in Syria ‘long term’. I am not such a fan of his now folks.

 

Here in the United States if a country, any country, came inside our borders and started shooting and bombing any of our citizens we would declare War on that country. This would be the case even if our direct neighbors like Canada or Mexico attacked any group of our people whether they be Hispanic, Indian, Oriental, Black or White, we would actively repel them, neighbors or not. Why does our government feel that they have any right to be in Syria without the blessings of the Syrian government? Folks, we don’t have any right to be there, none! I do not like the Leadership of Syria nor the Supreme Leader of Iran nor his flunkies but they are a reality that we have no legal right to depose. It is a shame that we have the relations that we now have with President Putin and Russia and it appears that as long as President Putin is in charge there we will not be able to have the friendship between our Nations that I wish we had. No matter what you or I like or think, by the laws of our Country it is illegal for us to have any troops inside the borders of Syria. Without a Congress approved declaration of War it is also illegal for the U.S. Military to fire any missiles into the sovereign Nation of Syria. We need to get out right now before we blow this up into a World War.

President Trump Is Correct About Putting America First

TRUMP PUTTING AMERICA FIRST IS THE ONLY CORRECT THING TO DO

 

As anyone who reads the Blog surely knows by now, I am not at all a fan of Donald Trump. It is difficult for me to think of a civil word in the concept of describing this person. Those who follow this Blog also know that I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton so I hope that you understand this article today is not about being a Democrat or a Republican as I am neither. So far though I do believe that the Republican Party is bringing much harm to themselves by standing behind this President. I do believe that if the Republicans have not gotten the guts to stand with the Democrats and to impeach Trump from Office before the November 2018 Mid-term Elections they are going to get slaughtered in those Elections. On a side note, I also feel that the Christians who are standing with this President are doing a great dishonor to Christ and His Holy Name as there is nothing holy about Mr. Trump. It is right and correct to pray for our Leaders but it is sinful to back sinful policies in the name of Christianity.

 

Now to the main headline of today’s commentary. Ever since Mr. Trump in his Campaign started using the slogan ‘America First’ he has drawn a lot of fire and anger from ‘the left, Democrats and liberals’. To me this anger is total stupidity! I do totally believe that Mr. Trump is a total racists but I do not at all consider this ‘slogan’ to be racist in any way. If Mr. Trump was saying something along the lines of ‘Whites First’ then yes, that would be totally racist. Yet any Leader or want to be Leader of any country who doesn’t create policies to put his own Nation first has no business being a Leader of that Nation. Think about it for a moment, if Mr. Trump’s slogan was ‘China First, or Russia First’, do you think that the American people would have elected him?

 

If Chancellor Merkel of Germany vocally or via policies said her goal is to put the EU before Germany should be voted out of Office? If Prime Minister May of England did the same thing, should she be the Prime Minister? How about President Jinping of China, if he was pushing a policy of Japan first, would he still be the President of China? How about Mr. Putin of Russia, if he was saying ‘America First’, would he still be the President of Russia? What I am saying is, of course Mr. Trump should put the interest of America first, if he didn’t, wouldn’t he then be a traitor to his own Country? What I am saying is, just because you or I believe this person (I have a hard time calling him a man) to be ignorant self-centered scum of the Earth, it does not mean that everything he says is wrong nor from his racist Soul.

Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny barred from entering presidential race

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny barred from entering presidential race

Story highlights

  •  Navalny will appeal the decision to bar him from the presidential race
  • Navalny has called for a boycott of the March 2018 election

Moscow (CNN)Russian officials barred activist Alexey Navalny from entering the country’s presidential race a day after he held nomination gatherings to kick off his run, according to state-run media outlet RIA-Novosti.

Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) rejected Navalny’s registration the day after he submitted it, citing a previous embezzlement conviction, RIA-Novosti reported.
“Firstly, a citizen who has been sentenced to imprisonment for committing a grave or especially grave crime and who has an outstanding conviction for the said crime, has no right to be elected president of the Russian federation,” said CEC member Boris Ebzeev.
The decision was not a surprise. Navalny’s candidacy was unlikely because Russian law prevents convicted criminals from running for public office, though Navalny and his supporters have said his conviction was politically motivated to block his presidential bid.
Navalny will appeal the commission’s decision, his campaign press secretary Ruslan Shaveddinov told CNN late Monday.
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Navalny would be running against incumbent President Vladimir Putin, who announced his intention to seek re-election — his fourth presidential bid — as an independent candidate at his annual press conference earlier this month.
At the time, he said his aim was for Russia to have a “competitive” and “balanced” political system, but it wasn’t his responsibility to create political opponents.
“I want this,” Putin said, “and I will strive for a balanced political system and that is impossible without competition in the political field.”
Putin has been either the Prime Minister or President of Russia since 1999.
In response to a question about why Russia lacked effective opposition leaders, Putin said most of the current opposition figures were more focused on “making noise” instead of a genuine agenda that could benefit the country.
Navalny called for a boycott of the March 2018 election in response to the CEC’s decision.
“We are announcing a voters’ strike,” Navalny said. “The procedure in which we are invited to participate is not an election. It involves only Putin and those candidates whom he personally chose, who do not pose a slightest threat to him.”
The opposition activist is widely popular among young people and has tapped into anger over a sluggish economy and endemic corruption. Navalny first rose to prominence during 2011’s large-scale anti-government protests.

Expert: Putin will ‘almost without a doubt’ win election

Jill Dougherty, a Russia expert and former CNN Moscow bureau chief, said Navalny still has a role to play in the presidential race, though it probably won’t be as a candidate.
“I think he will be a factor,” she said, “but he will not be an organized participant in any electoral process. He will be kept on the outside and he is definitely opposition, so he’s used to being kept on the outside.”
But Navalny’s support among young Russians could also play a factor in the election.
“A lot of the people who support him are very young, like 19 or 20 years old — sometimes even younger,” Dougherty said, and they have been exposed to the rest of the world and the way the rest of the world lives, and they are dissatisfied.
“Their dissatisfaction, although not very focused at this point, is a factor the Kremlin is worried about,” she said. “The Kremlin is very focused on the youth and making sure that young people support Putin.”

Meet the Russian socialite running for president

Meet the Russian socialite running for president 10:29
Dougherty also pointed to Ksenia Sobchak — a Russian socialite and reality TV star who has said she wants to challenge Putin — as someone who could offer a liberal alternative to Putin if Navalny can’t run. But Navalny’s supporters wouldn’t necessarily support her, she said.
“Putin will almost without a doubt win the election,” Dougherty said, “because he is supported by the majority of Russians and because the system is organized … to favor his candidacy.”

Trump: Israel not the cause of Mideast problems

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Trump to present new doctrine that says Israel not the cause of Mideast problems

‘America First’ national security strategy, to be unveiled Monday, reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change and de-emphasizes multinational deals that long dominated US policy

US President Donald Trump steps off Marine One on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, December 17, 2017, after returning from Camp David in Maryland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

US President Donald Trump steps off Marine One on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, December 17, 2017, after returning from Camp David in Maryland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — Prioritizing national sovereignty over alliances, US President Donald Trump is poised to outline a new national security strategy that envisions nations in a perpetual state of competition and downplays the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s impact on the broader world order.

The new national security doctrine reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change and de-emphasizes multinational agreements that have dominated the United States’ foreign policy since the Cold War.

The Republican president, who ran on a platform of “America First,” will detail his plan Monday, one that if fully implemented could sharply alter the United States’ relationships with the rest of the world.

The plan, according to senior administration officials who offered a preview Sunday, is to focus on four main themes: protecting the homeland and way of life; promoting American prosperity; demonstrating peace through strength; and advancing American influence in an ever-competitive world.

Trump’s doctrine holds that nation states are in perpetual competition and that the US must fight on all fronts to protect and defend its sovereignty from friend and foe alike. While the administration often says that “America First” does not mean “America Alone,” the national security strategy to be presented by Trump will make clear that the United States will stand up for itself even if that means acting unilaterally or alienating others on issues like trade, climate change and immigration, according to people familiar with the strategy.

US President Donald Trump, right, chats with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 9, 2017. (AP/Andy Wong)

Despite international challenges, the document cites emerging opportunities to advance American interests in the Middle East. “Some of our partners are working together to reject radical ideologies and key leaders are calling for a rejection of Islamist extremism and violence,” it says. “Encouraging political stability and sustainable prosperity would contribute to dampening the conditions that fuel sectarian grievances.”

The strategy document asserts that “for generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region. Today, the threats from radical jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats.”

The last such document, prepared by then-president Barack Obama in 2015, declared climate change an “urgent and growing threat to our national security.” A senior official said the Trump plan removes that determination — following the administration’s threat to pull out of the Paris climate accord — but will mention the importance of environmental stewardship.

Despite the risk of potential isolation presented by Trump’s strategy, its fundamentals are not a surprise. The Associated Press last week reviewed excerpts of a late draft of the roughly 70-page document and spoke to two people familiar with it. The draft emphasizes that US economic security is national security and that economic security must be ensured with military might. And they said it would stress the US is interested only in relationships with other countries, including alliances like NATO, that are fair and reciprocal.

Trump, according to the senior officials, is also expected to discuss threats he’ll deem as “rogue regimes,” like North Korea, and “revisionist powers,” like Russia and China, who aim to change the status quo, such as Moscow and its actions with Ukraine and Georgia, and Beijing in the South China Sea. Trump is also planning to renew his call for the member states in the United Nations and NATO to spend more on defense, saying that the United States will insist on its alliances being fair and reciprocal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and US President Donald Trump during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Danang, Vietnam, November 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Hau Dinh)

The senior officials said the document refers to China as a “strategic competitor,” rather than the stronger accusation of “economic aggression” previewed last week by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

The president is also set to make the case that US economic security is national security and that economic security must be ensured with military might.

The criticism of Russia will come as a break from recent warm words between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The leaders have spoken twice in four days, with Trump calling Putin to thank him for kind words about the US stock market and Putin reaching out to Trump to thank the CIA for help in stopping a terror plot in St. Petersburg.

The strategy document will not make explicit reference to Russian attempts to meddle in the US political system, but an official said it would highlight the importance of ensuring the resilience of US democratic institutions.

The early draft of the strategy reviewed by the AP lamented that America had put itself at a disadvantage by entering into multinational agreements, such as those aimed at combating climate change, and introducing domestic policies to implement them.

The senior officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan before the president’s remarks.

READ MORE:

Partial pullout of forces as Putin claims victory in Syria

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI NEWSPAPER ‘SHINE’)

 

Partial pullout of forces as Putin claims victory in Syria

AP

Declaring a victory in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday visited a Russian military air base in the Mideast nation and announced a partial pullout of Russian forces from the country.

Putin’s surprise visit marked his first trip to Syria, drawing a symbolic line under the campaign that has shored up President Bashar Assad’s government. It was also the first visit by a foreign head of state to war-ravaged Syria since its bloodletting started nearly seven years ago.

Putin’s brief stop at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia en route to Egypt came days after the Russian president declared his bid to run for re-election in the March 18 vote, helping encourage the feelings of pride about Russia’s revived global clout and prestige.

It also followed the Russian announcement last week that the Syrian army, with the help of Russian airstrikes, routed the Islamic State group in eastern Syria and restored control over the country’s border with Iraq.

In a televised speech to the Russian troops at the base, the Russian leader hailed their “excellent” performance in Syria.

“You have shown the best qualities of a Russian soldier — courage, valor, team spirit, decisiveness and excellent skills,” he said. “The Motherland is proud of you.”

Russia launched its air campaign in Syria at the end of September 2015. Russian officials say troops in Syria were there mainly to fight militants of the Islamic State and al-Qaida affiliates.

Russian television stations showed Putin walking off the plane at the air base, embracing and shaking hands with Assad. The two then visited a military operations room at the base.

The Hemeimeem base, located in a region that is the heartland of Assad’s Alawite minority, has served as the main foothold for the Russian military campaign in Syria.

“Here in Syria, far away from our borders, you helped the Syrian people to preserve their state and fend off attacks by terrorists,” Putin said, facing the troops lined up on the tarmac. “You have dealt a devastating blow to those who blatantly threatened our country. We will never forget about the victims who fell in the fight against terror both here and in Russia.”

Putin also said he had ordered the military to withdraw a “significant part” of the Russian contingent in Syria.

“Friends, the Motherland is waiting for you,” Putin said. “You are coming back home with victory!”

He added: “If the terrorists again raise their heads, we will deal such blows to them they have never seen.”

Putin, however, said the Russian military will maintain its presence at Hemeimeem and the naval facility in Tartus.

General Sergei Surovikin, the Russian military commander in Syria, reported to Putin that the military will pull out 23 warplanes, two helicopter gunships, special forces units, military police and field engineers.

Surovikin said the remaining forces will be sufficient to “successfully fulfill the tasks” to stabilize the situation in Syria. He wouldn’t say how many troops and weapons would stay behind.

Syria has allowed Russia to use Hemeimeem air base indefinitely without cost. Moscow also has signed a deal with Syria to use the Tartus base for 49 years, which could be extended if both parties agree.

The Russian military plans to modernize the air base and expand its runways to allow it to host more warplanes. It also intends to expand the Tartus facility significantly to make it a full-scale naval base capable of hosting warships, including cruiser-sized vessels.

After seeing troops march to the tunes of military marches, Putin drove up to the Russian warplanes parked on the runway and talked to the pilots, who said they will flew back home later in the day.

Assad thanked Putin for his troops’ “effective contribution” to the fight against terrorism in Syria, which he said the Syrian people “will never forget.”

Putin said: “Syria has been saved as a sovereign, independent state, refugees are coming home and conditions have been created for a political settlement under the United Nations’ auspices.”